“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,…”
It seems it should be such a simple question. Love God above all, love one another as you love yourself. There we go. End of article. Right?
Not so much. I’ve been reading a translation of Eusebius. He was an ancient Greek historian, his approximate birth and death being roughly A.D. 260-339. Modern church historians depend heavily upon him for early church history. He drew from his first-hand knowledge of the church as well his vast collection of historical, primary documents. His goal was to provide a definitive, full length history from the Christian perspective from the 1st century to the 4th.
He succeeded so well that others after him continued his history after he died. Socrates was among those who continued his work. This chain of contributors would, in large part, set the mold for how history would be recorded for the next thousand years. (source, Wikipedia)
He and the church fathers before him wrote extensively, all being much of the Greek philosophical bent. One would publish a heresy. Another would write volumes in refutation. I’m reasonably sure we aren’t the first generation to suffer carpal tunnel syndrome. Philosophers on both sides absolutely churned out amazing volumes of…volumes.
I’ve been reading Eusebius’ accounts of Origen, who spanned roughly A.D 184-253. From Wikipedia-
”He was a prolific writer in multiple branches of theology, including textual criticism, biblical exegesis and hermeneutics, philosophical theology, preaching, and spirituality written in Greek. He was anathemised at the Second Council of Constantinople.”
He spent a lot of time at the office. I couldn’t help thinking after reading for a number of pages about all his writings, that he never got out there. I started looking at him as an ivory tower Christian.
Turn the page.
He was tortured severely for his faith while in his 60’s’. He never gave in. He never recovered and died three years later from his injuries.
Origen studied scripture, but he also applied it. He not only knew that love for God and man were important, but he knew why! He could explain it to you, give you understanding gained by his own countless hours of study.
Not all of his writings are in complete agreement with apostolic teachings of the original 12. It seems he may have gotten a few things wrong, as he was blotted from church history at one point, but preserved by the Greeks.
My point in all this is that modern day Christians know they are supposed to do good works, but they don’t know why! It isn’t to get to heaven, but to feed our faith, to be a loving response to God. They know they believe in God, but they don’t really know His nature. They don’t really know why they believe. If challenged on their faith, if confronted with a non-believer – especially one with rack or boiling pot of oil – who might convert who?
I used to blow off Revelations. It’s a tough read. I figured I can’t do anything about it, so why get twisted up trying to figure it out. Live a God-pleasing life and trust Him to sort it out, to run His plan as He decides.
As nice and logical as that might sound, it’s WRONG! Why? In Matthew 24, the Olivet Discourse, which might be described as a Revelations preview, Jesus says,
“Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many…12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold…24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it.”
Jesus did not just tell us to love God and man to fulfill the commandments, he warned us about what will happen in the end days. If we aren’t prepared, things could happen that will strip us of our faith, because we didn’t take heed.
If, however, we make ourselves ready by absorbing the Bible cover-to-cover, we can run into trials and instead of saying, this is beating me up; time to quit, we can say, almost there! Bad time to give up!
How can we share Christ when we don’t understand Him, because we haven’t taken time to study His Word? How can we love and survive and protect ourselves if we haven’t put on the armor of God’s Word?
Don’t confine yourself to the familiar Gospels and Bible stories! That’s shallow! It’s one step. Start at Genesis and keep going until you finish Revelations. Then go back and do it again. When you read the New Testament, following the notes referring back to Old Testament scripture and go back. Read that OT passage in context again. Learn the connections.
How to be a Christian? A careful balance between loving it and studying it.